SAO PAULO (AP) — Jurgen Klinsmann is confident the return of top American players to Major League Soccer will give a boost to the U.S. national team.
As the U.S. began a 12-day training camp with MLS players in Sao Paulo, where it will be based during the World Cup in June, Klinsmann said the recent returns of Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley to the league are "exciting" and "huge for football in the United States."
Dempsey joined Seattle in the summer and Bradley signed with Toronto FC this week.
Although Klinsmann indicated in the past he would rather see top American players testing themselves in top leagues overseas, he said Tuesday a stronger MLS benefits the national team.
"We said a couple of years ago that we wanted to be one day in the top 10, top 15 in the world," said Klinsmann, a German who moved to California in 1998. "We have to develop better players, we have to develop better coaches, and it's not going to happen overnight, but we will keep working and the MLS is helping us a lot."
He said MLS is sending a "serious signal" that it wants the best American players back in the United States so it can build a stronger league.
"We are not there yet, and we know that," Klinsmann said. "But it's exciting. The players who are in Europe, many of them some big players, are now back in MLS.
"MLS is getting better every year," he added. "We are working at full pace, hopefully we can prove a lot of good work already this summer."
Klinsmann said it has been crucial for the league to attract strong owners with the financial means to recruit top Americans from Europe.
"People jump in financially, want the best American players in America," Klinsmann said. "Suddenly they bring back a Clint Dempsey from Tottenham, they bring back a Michael Bradley from AS Roma, and they are working on other players as well. This is huge for football in the United States."